As the driver pulled up to the building, Keith tossed him a fifty, breezed out of the cab, grabbed his gear and was glad to be home. “Mr. Jackson, welcome back,” Jesse fairly cried out. Then suddenly took it down a notch, his expression clouding over.
“You okay, man? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing sir. Nothing at all.”
“Jesse, you never were a good liar. You’re awful at it now.”
“Sir, I have work to do.” And sat at his desk, trying to find work to do.
Keith didn’t like the look or sound of any of that one bit. The elevator came. He got on. Feeling wary.
Walked down the hall, his radar jangling. Didn’t take long to find out why. Keith walked in the door and found himself standing in pretty much an empty apartment. There was not the first sign Lesli had ever been there.
Butch and Sundance came flying out of the bedroom, collided with his guitar case, then hopped all over each other before deciding the best way to celebrate Keith coming home was to run back and forth on the sofa as fast as they could. Keith checked the phone. No message. He looked around the kitchen. No note.
A lightbulb went off over his head and he called downstairs. “Yes, Mr. Jackson.”
“You know something about this, don’t you?”
“Yes, Mr. Jackson. Miss Hall moved out last night. Sorry.”
Keith hung up. What was he going to do now? Jesse, he figured, must’ve come in and given the guys breakfast. He dropped his bag on the coffee table and looked up Lesli’s parents’ number. Hank answered: “Hello.”
“Hank, it’s Keith.”
“Hey, man. How are you?”
“Have you seen your daughter?”
“Well, she gone.”
“She’s what?” Mari piped up in the background wondering who Hank was talking to.
“All her stuff is gone.”
“Something happen to her do you think?”
“Nope. She moved out. Lock, stock, and that dumb cat of hers.”
“You can say that again.”
Mari kept pestering Hank, who finally said, “It’s Keith, Mari. Your daughter’s left him.”
“She what!? What on earth would possess her to do a fool thing like that? Good men do not grow on trees. Henry, give me the telephone. Keith?”
“Honey, what happened? Did you have an argument? It wasn’t another woman or another man, was it?”
“No, Mari, that’s just it. Things were going great.” He looked around the place, amazed at how much space the mere thought of her took up. “So I thought.”
“She just up and out of the clear blue sky, took off? No phone call, no note?”
He heard her tell Hank, “That daughter of yours is certifiable.”
“Can’t imagine where she gets it. Keith?”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Hang in, son. She’ll be back.”
“No, but I think she will. I do know she loves you.”
“Yeah. Some way to show it.”
“I know. If there’s anything we can do…”
“Yeah.” Keith hung up. He’d fry in Hades before he’d call either her old apartment or the museum. Then wondered just how long he could keep that resolve. He stood there in a dumbstruck daze. Then went about distractedly trying to unpack with some sense of organization.
Unpacking was intermittently interrupted by furballs flying all over the place. Finally he left everything exactly where it was and resorted to his old stand-by. Figuring out the logistics of throwing himself back into playing.
Next week: Keith presses on.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.